Along with the redesigned BRZ coupe that recently went on sale, Subaru has an all-new WRX sports sedan coming to showrooms this spring.
The Impreza-based compact has been the beating heart of Subaru’s performance side for the past three decades and enters its sixth-generation as the most potent version of the rally-inspired model yet.
The all-wheel-drive WRX is built on a stiffer chassis than the outgoing model and features a larger turbocharged flat-four-cylinder engine with 2.4-liters of displacement that’s rated at 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Indicative of its enthusiast appeal, a six-speed manual transmission is standard. Around 85 percent of the previous edition’s buyers chose it over the optional CVT automatic, one of which remains available on the 2022 model under the Subaru Performance Transmission branding that mimics the operation of an 8-speed gearbox. The manual also gets slightly better fuel economy than the automatic – 19 city/26 hwy v 19 city/25 hwy — which isn’t usually the case in modern cars.
Final pricing hasn’t been announced, but it shouldn’t be much more than the $ 28,420 that the 2021 WRX started at.
Among the styling elements that help set the WRX apart from the Impreza are prominent black wheel arch covers that look more like what you’d find on an off-road SUV, with the front ones vented to improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle.
Inside, the WRX features red accent stitching, a touch of carbon fiber trim, a flat-bottom steering wheel and sport seats. It’s only slightly larger outside and in than the car it replaces and remains very much a compact, unlike some competitors that have grown into near midsize cars in recent years. The second row seating area is accommodating, but not exceptionally spacious, and rear headroom is tight.
A large tablet-style display fills the center of the dashboard and is used for most functions, but is flanked by physical volume and tuning knobs along with rocker buttons to control the temperature. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are included in the infotainment system.
A new top of the line GT model adds even more aggressive Recaro front seats and computer-controlled adjustable shock absorbers, by my test car was a mid-level Limited trim with the six-speed.
The clutch is firm and the stick’s throws are longish and notchy, but direct. A collar release for reverse makes parallel parking a little awkward, but the WRX was very much designed for being driven forward.
There’s a just hint of entertaining turbo lag when you slam the accelerator before the torque kicks in and powers you away with some authority, but not too much. The WRX is quick, but not scary as the all-wheel-drive system puts the power down without much slip to rocket you away from a stop.
The steering is very responsive to even the smallest inputs and the platform neat and tidy as it follows it through curves. I took it on a twisty gravel road in the spirit of its rallying background and had an absolute blast even on the low-profile, all-season street tires it was equipped with.
The ride quality is a bit stiff for a daily commute, but the visibility provided by a low belt line and large windows is fantastic and the WRX shines on fresh, smooth pavement. One drawback of going with the manual, however, is a lack of electronic driver aids for boring highway trips.
Unlike the automatic that comes with Subaru’s full EyeSight package –automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, etc. – manual cars make do with a blind spot monitoring system.
That probably won’t be an issue for the WRX’s target audience, which is a small, but loyal niche that should be very pleased with the latest installment of their favorite driver’s car.
2022 Subaru WRX
Base price: $ 29,000 (EST)
Type: 5-passenger, 4-door, all-wheel-drive sedan
Engine: Turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four-cylinder
Power: 271 hp, 258 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
MPG: 19 city/26 hwy